You know where you are? You’re in the dungeon baby!

Se, between writing for An Age Undreamed Of (The working title for the Conan game), work, my Star Wars game (Which I’ve been taking notes for and will update you on) and a few vists from the Black Dog, I’ve been a bit pre-occupied. Naturally, when I’m trying to write something, brain will try to write something else.So, having seen the card game Welcome to the Dungeon a few weeks ago, brain immediately thought of the Guns and Rose’s song followed by “That’s a good idea for a con one-shot.” Over the next few hours it evolved into a game show esque concept and I mentally filed the idea away. Bad move. It stuck. So, in order to get it out of my system, here’s a rough edit of the opening credits of Welcome to the Dungeon!

[OPENING ECHO PEDAL GUITAR BIT OF SONG] Camera swoops down through a huge mountain range, taking us to the entrance to DUNGEON STADIUM, a massive pair of bronze and iron doors in the side of the mountain. They open and the camera enters, revealing the stadium, a massive complex filled with traps and monsters flanked by rows of audience members cheering wildly and waving giant foam weapons excitedly.

[VOCALS KICK IN]
Welcome to the dungeon, we got the fun and games
We got everything you want, honey we know the names.
[SHOTS OF OUR HOSTS]
We are the people who can find, whatever you may need
[LOVING SHOTS OF ADVENTURERS GEAR – COILS OF ROPE, GLEAMING WEAPONS, HEALING POTIONS ETC]

If you got the money honey, we got your disease
[SHOTS OF ADVENTURERS BEING TURNED TO STONE, CONVULSING ETC. REAL JOHN HURT MOMENT TYPE STUFF]
Welcome to the dungeon, we take it day by day,
If you want it you’re gonna bleed, but that’s the price you pay.
[SHOTS OF COMBAT – BLOOD SPURTING, LIMBS SEVERING, THAT SORT OF THING]
Cause when you’re high you never, ever want to come down, suck down, suck down…
[ADVENTURERS FALLING FROM LEDGES, BEING GRABBED BY MONSTERS, FALLING INTO PIT TRAPS ETC]
[GUITAR SOLO]
[SHOTS OF SWIRLING AND MESSY MELEE COMBATS]
You know where you are? You’re in the dungeon baby, you’re gonna die!
[PAN AROUND SHOT OF BAND OF ADVENTURERS, ADVANCING MONSTERS ON ALL SIDES]
[AS SONG STARTS TO COME TO AN END, CAMERA MOVES BACK THROUGH DUNGEON STADIUM, GETTING FASTER AND FASTER, WITH THE FINAL SHOT OF THE DOORS SLAMMING CLOSED ON “It’s gonna bring you down huh!”

NPC’s:
OUR HOSTS: Let’s call them BOB and DAVE for the moment.
The IN DUNGEON CORRESPONDENT, a Valkyrie who’se constantly unhappy about the skimpy and impractical armour she’s forced to wear for the show.
THE SAGE: Who tells the audience what’s in the room the Adventurers are about to enter and the week’s themed Dungeon Rooms.
THE THIEF: Pops up from time to time to try to steal from the party and exchange terrible dad jokes wih OUR HOSTS.

So, the game itself. It’s currently a rather lethal game show, sort of The Running Man crossed with The Crystal Maze. I should also watch some Takeshi’s Castle and It’s a Knockout while I’m at it I guess. Sure, there’s the needing two GM’s (And I know two people who’d be magnificent at it) and I still can’t decide what GM’s would have to wear between the horrible neon suits you can find at Lowes or wizards robes made of fabric that’s cheaper than dirt.

Lastly, what system do I run it with? Or, for that matter, do I run it as a freeform, or even a LARP? *ponders* I should sleep now. G’night all!

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A catch up of sorts.

Being introduced to someone who’s wearing nothing but ugg boots and shorts and holding a freshly sharpened machete, well that makes an impression. Sure, it’s the sort of impression that makes you think you’ll soon be buried under the patio, but I’m sure I’ve made people I know feel like that on occasion (At least I hope so). He turned out to be eccentric, but friendly (and mostly harmless) and we spent a good 45 minutes or so shooting bows and talking traditional archery. That’s what’ll stick with me the most about that trip. I also got to ride a horse for the first time in over 10 years, an experience that, while enjoyable, reaffirmed my belief that cavalry is not a job I’m suited for.

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Yes, I was quietly singing ‘Over the Misty Mountains Cold’ at that point.

Who? What? Oh, an explantion. I spent most of the Christmas season visiting in-laws in New Zealand, a land that continues to be utterly charming and not just cause we ate at a restaurant that had cats roaming the grounds. CATS ROAMING THE GROUNDS. Why more places haven’t cottoned on this I’ve no idea, but you’ll have me as a client from day 1. I like cats, in case you hadn’t guessed. It was up there with the place that advertised something called a ‘Caveman Platter’, which was one of the most amazing things I have, and will ever, eat. Still, there were no cats, which knocks half a star off.

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KITTIE!

I discovered the works of Joe Abercrombie, purchasing Half a King on a whim and reading it within a day. Apparrently it’s more young-adult that his usual “ALL THE GRIMDARK” fare, but I enjoyed it and plan to purchase more. I also picked up Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist, and while that was hilarious and well worth reading, it’s tinged with more than a bit of sadness now given her passing. While it’s an inevitability that the icons of our youth will pass, that didn’t make things any easier to bear. Many words have been written and tears have been shed in her name, and we shall linger no more in pain and grief.

fisherHell, I’d be happy to go out that way myself. Wife might complain though.

Staying in that universe, Rogue One was a delight. Grim and blood soaked by the standards of the Star Wars universe it’s true, but it was telling a different sort of story than the usual lightsaber wielding high adventure. To quote a friend of mine, ‘They went full Dirty Dozen.” and he wasn’t wrong in that regard. It’s not a take on the universe I’ve seen before, but I saw it described as ‘putting the war in Star Wars‘. At first glance that seems stupid, as Wars in in the title, and the first opening crawl we see begins with “It is a period of civil war.” But the more I thought on it, the more it seemed correct. The other films in the saga, yes, even Empire,Ā  are space opera first and foremost, but this felt more like a war film than any other part of the saga, with the possible exception of certain episodes of The Clone Wars.

After The Force Awakens made stormtroopers seem effective again, to me, this restored Darth Vader to the terrifying figure he was pre “I hate sand.” We didn’t see him much, but when we did it meant something and that something was DO NOT FUCK WITH VADER. And points to the writers for that beautiful burn, one almost equal to the ones covering his body, a line so wonderful I’d kill to have written it. Seeing him rip through the Rebel troopers like an unstoppable machine, it was the Vader that was talked about, had been hinted at, but we’d never really seen. (See also the recent run of Darth Vader comics, which show Vader taking levels in Scheming Bastard) All the more effective for it’s brevity – it’s very much the old saying of ‘the more effective the monster the less you see it.’

After having seen the film again, my initial hype lessened slightly, but that doesn’t mean I think it was any less good. I did spend more time looking out for scenes that were in the trailer that didn’t make the film (And the shout-outs to Rebels), but then K-2SO would say something awesome and/or snarky and all would be well again. Oh Alan Tudyk, bless you. Hopefully we’ll see that footage, or parts of it, at some point. The Blu-Ray better have the mother of all deleted/alternate scenes packages…

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What, too soon?

I’d say there was probably one or two too many shout outs to the OT (Red 5’s appearance ties with trying to work out just how did R2 and Threepio get onboard the Tantive IV in time?), but I can’t blame the filmakers for doing so. Mind you, if I said I didn’t immediately want to start playing Age of Rebellion, or any form of Star Wars RPG, well I’d be lying harder than Federal Parliament. It wasn’t a perfect film, but damn it was good. And for those keeping track of my film costume wish list, you can add Chirrut’s costume and several of the Rebel senator’s cloaks to that list. šŸ™‚

Staying with gaming, more writing has been done for Hyborian Tales, for which I probably need a new title. I also went location scouting recently, and thanks to friends of mine now have a location for the game. Close to shops, public transport and with toilets nearby even! A test day is being planned, but that won’t be for another few weeks. Team (Almost all) Dual Wield recently confronted the mysterious mastermind who’s been concocting devilish deeds of a nefarious nature and may be able to defeat him, assuming they can stop sassing the City Watch. It’s building towards a big finale, which will take place next Monday night. No pressure…

Anyhow, it’s past half 11 and I should sleep now. Night all. Rest well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.

“Let the following commence!”

My players see it as a badge of honour when I stop the game to write down something they’ve said. I am pleased with this.

Monday night saw the return of Team (Almost All) Dual Wield! Sadly it also saw me spend a lot of the game trying not to cough up a lung (Something I’m still doing), so this recap will likely be shorter than normal. If I’ve missed anything, I apologise to my players and ask them to please help me fill in the gaps.

Having just had a group of young nobles pointed out to them by the barman, a conversation was struck up, and it seems as if the Black Star thieves was a small scale smuggling network for a group of rich patrons*. They may have known the missing noble who might have started this, Denius, who seemed changed when they last saw him. They swiftly vanished, which led to the Rogue getting the Wizard and Ranger (now called Team Drunk) to watch the bar and look for anything strange (Having given them some coin), and the Fighter (Now called Team Door) to watch both the door (Which went nowhere but side to side) and Team DrunkĀ  to make sure they (AKA the wizard) didn’t burn the place down. The RogueĀ  put in a call to find the Paladin’s sister (AKA his secret identity) and Team Sneak were on their way! While they were tracking the nobles (Who’d attemptedĀ  to disguise themselves under cloaks), the Wizard and Ranger got roaringly drunk on booze and cheese (Actual cheese, not booze cheese. Though that’s an idea now that I think of it…) Both their players may have been on sugar highs thanks to the pineapple concoctions they were drinking which may have affected things, but I’m sure something strange would have happened regardless.

A drunken request at the bar for some Justice was put in, and shortly after a familiar member of the Watch, Sergeant Gounar, appeared. A by now very drunken wizard (He’s a Gnome and beer comes in pints) may have accidentally started to cast something, only for the Sergeant to pick him up and aim him out of the window at which point Team Sneak felt something of a disturbance in the Force. Team Drunk were gently escorted to the local drunk tank with a surprising minimum of fuss. Handcuffs were broken, though the cell bars weren’t and cheese was thrown at other inhabitants. Mercifully everyone was in seperate cells at that stage. The Fighter collected a claim ticket for them, and will hopefully return in the morning to collect them, giving the Ranger time to throw more cheese in the by now sleeping Wizard’s mouth. Also, the Ranger might have cast the spell to find her Animal Companion. (Actually, that might have happened in the bar, but things are blurry.)

Returning to Team Sneak, they followed the nobles to a warehouse in the Sea Ward of the city, and having failed to fully observe the secret knock, Batman’d it up the side of the building** and observed through a convenient skylight. An argument ensued between the nobles, with some concerned about what they’d gotten into. They were proved right when the one with the most bass in his voice (AKA the leader) proceeded to stab the lead doubter in the throat. At that, confusion reigned, and a discussion about intervening between the Rogue and Paladin led to them being spotted and dramatically bursting through skylights*** into battle! Things went better for theĀ  Rogue, at least at first, with some Flynning from the Paladin. Stabbings ensued, Persuasion rolls were made (With the Rogue failing one so badly that the leader didn’t think they’d kill him – it was that sort of a night) but eventually they prevailed.

More conversation ensued, with it being revealed that the smugglers were infact working for the nobles, bringing in luxuries and small contraband. They’d also heard of the missing noble, saying he was acting strangely. The dance of bargaining for their lives continued, with the leader about to rat them out when all of a sudden – *CLIFFHANGER SCREAM*

A slightly odd set of cliffhangers- conversation, cheese throwing and snoring, but it seemed to go well. I’m still getting used to a city based investigative campaign, but my players make all my nerves worth it. They’re an incredibly fun bunch to run for. Plots are coming to a head, and a confrontation seems soon to take place! *crashing chord* Will they meet the mysterious missing noble? Will they find out who their even more mysterious patron is? Will the wizard have to take another bath? Tune in to find out!

*Names were mixed up and things were slightly rewound, leading to the first Doctor Strange reference of the night.

**Sadly a minor celebrity didn’t poke their head out of a window. Probably a good thing as they would have been rumbled.

*** Yes, there was the faint sound of a Eagle. I’ve been replaying Black Flag recently.

Team (Almost all) Dual Wield!

So, when we last saw our intrepid band of heroes, their investigations had taken them to the Cliffwatch Inn, when all of a sudden, screams come from the kitchen! What happened next? Well, you’re about to find out!

The Paladin, curious, opened the door, to reveal several Giant Spiders crawling out of the ground and mencaing the staff. The Ranger tried to make friends with them, which didn’t really work, not matter how much she wanted it to. The Paladin bolted to try to find a phone booth to change into his secret identity, while the Rogue and Fighter started whaling on the spiders, with a particuarly impressive Sneak Attack one-shotting one of them. Damage was done both to and by the party, with the Ranger badly wounded and poisoned while the Fighter was consistently only able to hit with one of her two attacks. (Perhaps the universe sending a signal?)

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Weren’t expecting that were you?

The Wizard continued his track record of setting things on fire (Thanks to a well placed and sculpted Burning Hands), then shifted one of the barrels of cooking oil that was eerily close to the flame over to the tunnels the spiders had emerged from. Around that point the Paladin burst through a nearby window flailing his swords wildly and was about as effective as you’d expect doing that. After some more maiming of spiders (And the Ranger almost getting poisoned again), the spiders were murdered. This was to the Ranger’s annoyance, given that she wanted toto tame one so the Wizard could ride it. Needless to say, the Wizard was not on board with that plan.

Feed them? Feed them my axe!

Hessians sacks were doused in water and the flames began to be put out. Naturally, the Watch soon arrived, and Sergeant Gounar began to somewhat berate the PC’s. Turns out, random attacks like this had been citywide, and while the Watch doesn’t think the PC’s are responsible, it’s certainly odd that in a town with this many adventurers, this lot are continually found next to burning and/or dead things. It was politely requested that they accompany the Watch to a chat with their superiors, which the party took to mean secret arrest. Much eye-rolling from the Watch followed the now traditional party sassing session. And yes, the Wizard had scarpered by this point.

“I’m investigating, not persuading!”

The city official and Merchants Guild reps were agitated,but offered the PC’s employment and money if they would stop the threat. This was taken as a veiled threat, but had they walked out, well, I’m not sure what I would have done. (They wouldn’t have been stopped though.) The Fighter commenced investigating, discovering from the merchants several clues and a possible location, while the Ranger inquired about the 50GP of secret herbs and spices she needs to cast Find Animal Companion. (One of the merchants gave her a mysterious note!) There may have been jokes about how investigation is the reason they keep the Fighter around, a more than fair observation, given the Wizard’s tactic is simply screaming questions at people. Off they trotted to the bar they’d been told about, when the Ranger’s sorta boyfriend (The spunky Half-Orc) came flying through the doors. Bare Knuckle Wednesday get’s competitive.

“You see I’ve learnt this new spell and I’m thinking… fondue.”

A slightly awkward chat-up happened (Along with trying to work out if drunkenly trying to find a zoo counts as a date), with the party heading inside to investigate further. Questions were asked/yelled (I’ll let you decide who did what), as the group identified some of the possible compatriots/instigators. Crash zoom into their faces as they hear their names and roll credits!

“20!” *shocked expression* “No, not a natural 20, but your look of panic made it worth it.”

It was a bit of a mess of a session, as I’ve been sick and lost the most recently updated version of my game notes. That’ll teach not to have multiple versions ofĀ  my notes stashed on different USB’s and computers. I’m also new to the whole ‘running a game based on intrigue’ thing but it seems to be working. On the bright side, my players continue to be gloriously silly, which makes it all worthwhile. As for what happens next, spoilers…

Have you tried, not being an adventurer?

AKA “I used to be an adventurer but then I had to explain it to my family.”

So, last night’s D&D session got a little strange. Smallcloths got discussed again, a level was gained, they didn’t get in trouble with the law and the Wizard had another bath! A recap follows, though it’s likely to be very out of sequence as I was both improvising a lot of the adventure and laughing even more. As always, my players are welcome to correct me.

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“He’s not high-strung, he’s not a Bard!”

After dealing with the Night Druids, the newly 3rd level party had moved to a local tavern to eat and discuss their next move. While the Paladin (AKA Doctor Love) was attempting to matchmake, it was decided to go back to the Roaringhorns estate (Minus the Rogue, who went home to bed) to join back in with the seemingly perpetual party, both to see if any further developments had ensued and so the Ranger can catch up with the Half Orc she might be hot for. Both of those things ensued, with the Fighter being told that one Denius Huntsilver, a young Noble who was training as a Druid had vanished a couple of years back on an expedition. The Wizard pocketed more cheese and the Ranger some meat, as she’s gathering spell components (50GP of fine foods and rare herbs) to help find her animal companion. Unfortunately, the kitchen doesn’t have the 11 secret herbs and spices needed. The Ranger (Having lured the sexy Half-Orc outside) was also planning to free the animals from the local zoo, which kind of petered out. That wasn’t exactly what the Half-Orc was expecting, but he was too polite to say. The Wizard’s cockney accent continues to be contagious and may well be the local accent now.

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“Sharks are the bears of the sea.”

The Paladin took a by now very drunken Wizard back to the temple and left him in the bath, propped up so he won’t drown. This resulted in a very strange wakeup call (Waking up naked in a bath is one thing, but also being surrounded by a bunch of ab-tacular Priests of Sune?) I can’t blame him for screaming*. The higher ups at the temple have politely indicated that could anyone else he brings back please be quieter, but I doubt that’s going to happen. The Ranger and Fighter made their way to the Rogue’s estate, where, in an unprecedented shock, he was awake before noon. This resulted in the rest of the party spontaneously NPC’ing his family, who were less than thrilled by his adventuring hobby, with his father demanding he go back to bed and not return until at least noon. The longer it went on the more I thought I should stop it and get back to the adventure, but it was too much fun. Eventually they all left to go see a Druid about a thing (With his mother sneaking him a package containing some iron spikes and a supportive note as they were leaving). I’m now planning to meet family of the other PC’s along the way.

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“We’re a temple of love, it get’s loud.”

The Druid, offically known as Anarakin but called Charlie by the Paladin, told them the tale of an expedition into the mountains a few years ago (Oddly close to the town the Ranger keeps talking about saving from a bear, a story which most of Waterdeep has heard by now), from which few returned, the rest having been torn apart by some horrific beasts. He knew of one survivor’s whereabouts, so the party went seeking the Cliffwatch Inn to find her. The Paladin took over over her job serving tables so she could talk to the rest of the party, and she told of how the young Denius was a bit full of himself, but wasn’t a bad lad. All of a sudden, there’s horrible screams from the kitchen and *cliffhanger sting!*

Further instalments from the quote file:
“How could it be under the sea if there was a bear?”
“Egg-bearing hips!”
“That’s a terrible idea.” “You just haven’t drunk enough.”
The Google image searches Bear in a Kilt and Bear Nun. Yeah, they’re worth it.
“Large people are probably bears.”
The idea of Watherdhavian speed-dating.

So, even less got done than I was expecting (I should stop panicking pre-game about not having enough plot for them), but it was funnier than I could have hoped for. In a fortnight from now, what is happening in the kitchen? Was the young Noble killed, or was he colluding with the monsters? Who are the thieves with the tattoos and how are they conected with the Night Druids? Will the Wizard bathe again? Hopefully some of these questions will be answered!

*We mostly avoided jokes about a naked 13 year old with a bunch of Priests. It was for the best.